archiving Tomb Raider one pixel at a time


Tomb Raider II starring Lara Croft released 25 years ago on Windows and Sony Playstation. The sequel to Tomb Raider was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. The game features a globe-trotting Lara Croft as she sets out to retrieve a precious artefact, the Dagger of Xian, before it falls into the wrong hands.

Lara's search for the dagger begins at the Great Wall in China, where she learns she has competition in her quest: a sect by the name of Fiama Nera (Italian for Black Flame), led by Marco Bartoli, wants to possess the artefact and would do the impossible to reach it before Lara does. A frantic race for the dagger ensues, with each side trying to outwit the other at every turn.

Lara's odyssey takes her to different parts of the world; from China where she starts her journey, to the famous Venice, then to a sunken ship searching for clues that may help her with her quest. From there, the plot thickens as Lara is compelled to visit one of the harshest climates in the world, Tibet. As she discovers more and more clues, she finds herself face to face with Marco Bartoli back in China, but if only things were that simple - Marco isn't giving up without a fight.

This second installment of Tomb Raider retains the charm and atmosphere of the original, while introducing exciting new features. Lara faces more enemies than she did before, resulting in action-packed and often challenging combat sequences. A new Lara Croft game model has been introduced, as well as somewhat improved graphics - and let's not forget plenty of new weapons.

Tomb Raider composer Nathan McCree returns and provides another stunning soundtrack, including the iconic Venice Violins. Nathan McCree would later remaster his Tomb Raider music in Abbey Road, London, and the newly released Tomb Raider Suite would be performed live by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition to better puzzles, harder-to-kill enemies, and a large variety of levels, a new and very successful appendage has been introduced to this game: vehicles. The game puts Lara - and you - behind the wheel of the speedboat and the snowmobile, introducing high octane action to the broth.

Indoor environments, as befits places long forgotten, have undergone an atmospheric decrease in illumination - and the addition of flares allows Lara to light her way through the darkest tombs.

Controls remain much the same as in the previous game, with the addition of useful new movements: wall-climbing opens up new perspectives in level-design, while the acrobatic midair turn - also performable during the swan-dive for a graceful effect -comes in handy during combat.

With more combat naturally comes a bigger arsenal, and Tomb Raider II has no lack of new weapons. The powerful M16 Assault Rifle, the harpoon gun to fight off underwater enemies, the grenade launcher and many others are all at Lara's disposal.

For example, Lara doesn't need to get closer to distant enemies. Now, with the help of an M16 she can down them from a distance. Only a few shots from this monster will topple the largest of enemies.

Having troubles underwater? The new harpoon gun helps you defeat all sorts of swimming nasties, from enemy scuba divers to vicious great white sharks. And as for the grenade launcher - the cream of the crop - it tends to take care of things right away, shattering your opposition instantly.

Unlike the original Tomb Raider, this instalment features more human enemies. But there is no shortage of non-human opponents, such as statues that come to life when Lara approaches them, deadly underwater creatures, birds, bats, spiders, and so on. The T-Rex also makes a dramatic comeback, though locating this classic enemy might require some skill.

Aside from the default one, Lara has some new outfits. In China and Venice she wears her normal outfit, whereas in the snowy Tibetan levels she chooses something offering a little more warmth: a flight jacket along with her usual shorts.

As for clothing worn in the oceanic parts of the game, Lara is bare footed and wears her famous Sola swimsuit. And finally, for the concluding levels in the Manor when Lara receives unexpected guests, she wears a beautiful blue velvet nightgown.

Tomb Raider II is a solid sequel to the popular Tomb Raider adventure game from Core Design. The game was released on Microsoft Windows and Playstation in 1997 and on Apple Mac in 1998. An iOS and Android version released 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider II